Binge-watching a new TV show is a chance to put the real world on hold, and isn't that something we could all use more of right about now? For those who want to indulge in a little escapism, nothing beats the fantastical (and often physically impossible) worlds of science-fiction. From space battles in the far reaches of a galaxy we've never heard of to advancements in technology that change the way humans live on Earth, science-fiction is television's most encompassing genre, and in the hands of great storytellers, it can be the most impactful.

TV Guide has scoured the TV landscape for the absolute best sci-fi shows to binge, from the classics to the new releases. What we found are plenty of shows with crazy robots, dystopian futures, time travel, and even immortality across the various streaming platforms.

Check out our list of all the best sci-fi shows for you to dive into on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO, and more.


<em>Battlestar Galactica</em>Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica

What it's about: A reimagining of the 1970s classic in which alien robots threaten to wipe out humans
Why it's worth watching: Battlestar Galactica is considered one of the all-time great sci-fi series, and when it was released in the mid-2000s, one of the best TV shows period. Ronald D. Moore's take adds a wrinkle that increases the paranoia tenfold; the Cylons can impersonate humans, meaning the crew of the Galactica realizes that some of its members could be Cylons in disguise, even if the Cylons don't know it themselves. Watch the miniseries that launched the series first, then dive into the next two seasons, which is some of the greatest sci-fi television ever made. Later seasons tail off a bit, and the ending wasn't well-received by all, but the show is still well worth the journey.
How many seasons: 4
Where to watch: Syfy.com (free)


<em>Battlestar Galactica</em>Battlestar Galactica

The Orville

What it's about: In the far future, the crew of a space ship explores the galaxy to bring alien cultures into the Planetary Union, while also sometimes manufacturing pot brownies in the ship's food synthesizer.
Why it's worth watching: The Orville is an homage to Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, who fawns over all things Trek while also not afraid to make fun of it. It's hard to tell what kind of show The Orville wants to be at some points because it's really trying to be all of them: an interstellar stoner comedy, a sci-fi swashbuckler, a workplace drama, a futuristic Twilight Zone. But that's part of the fun. Season 1 has some bumps, but Season 2, especially the midseason two-parter "Identity" is an improvement. Though the first two seasons aired on Fox, Season 3 will be a Hulu exclusive.
How many seasons: 2
Where to watch: Hulu


<em>Battlestar Galactica</em>Battlestar Galactica

The X-Files

What it's about: A pair of FBI agents investigate the paranormal and inexplicable — UFOs, ghosts, and even cannibals.
Why it's worth watching: It's a classic for a reason. The X-Files set the mold with Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) — the definitive believer and skeptic, paired up to investigate the unexplained. But the Fox procedural was always too smart to draw a clean line between faith and science; even Mulder wanted proof, and even Scully had her religion. This is the most scientific thing about the science fiction of The X-Files (which is otherwise not all that sciency): The show's heroes are two people willing to upend their entire belief systems to get the truth. Mulder and Scully asked the messy questions, and it changed genre television. -Kelly Connolly
How many seasons: 11
Where to watch: Hulu


<em>Battlestar Galactica</em>Battlestar Galactica

Counterpart

What it's about: A government desk jockey (J.K. Simmons) an an office in Berlin learns that an event split the world into two parallel universes, and the two sides are slowly approaching an all-out war against each other. Yikes!
Why it's worth watching: The gimmick gives its wonderful cast (which includes Olivia Williams and Harry Lloyd) the opportunity to play dual roles as each universe has a "counterpart" in the other. Simmons leads the way as his counterpart is a superspy, and watching him play against himself is incredible. Fans of espionage and science-fiction will have their heads full with the intricately plotted and twisty story.
How many seasons: 2
Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video


<em>Battlestar Galactica</em>Battlestar Galactica

Black Mirror

What it's about: This anthology series tells different tales each episode about the dangers of technology and the depravities people will use it for. From digital worlds to dark dystopias, Black Mirror will have you second guessing whether you should cut every cord you own just to be safe.
Why it's worth watching: If you're in the mood to start hating the human race, Black Mirror is the sci-fi show for you. While most of these stories are a little bit depressing (and some are borderline horrific), a few are uplifting enough to cleanse your palate (check out Season 3's "San Junipero" or Season 4's "Hang the DJ" for some heart eyes). The best part about this binge is that while you'll definitely get hooked, the fact that it's an anthology series means you won't necessarily find yourself powering through episodes at 3 a.m. since each episode is a standalone story.
How many seasons: 5
Where to watch: Netflix


<em>Battlestar Galactica</em>Battlestar Galactica

Stargate Universe

What it's about: A group of scientists, military personnel and a few civilians accidentally find themselves transported onto an ancient ship, thousands of lightyears from Earth. While stranded in strange galaxies, tensions run high as they attempt to explore the unknown universe and find a way back home.
Why it's worth watching: Out of all the Stargate series that could have made this list, we picked Stargate Universe because it combines all of our favorite sci-fi elements: a brilliant group of stranded strangers, space, time travel, political infighting and terrifying aliens. It's literally a one-stop shop for every nerd-tastic fantasy you've ever had with the bonus of great performances and top-notch storytelling. We do warn you, however, Stargate Universe was canceled after Season 2 and ended on a pretty huge cliffhanger, so you should go into this binge knowing that when you get to the end, you'll want to pull your hair out wishing there was more. You're welcome for the heads up.
How many seasons: 2
Where you can watch: Hulu


<em>Battlestar Galactica</em>Battlestar Galactica

Fringe

What it's about: A team of experts led by a kooky old scientist (John Noble), his son (Joshua Jackson), and an FBI agent (Anna Torv) investigate strange occurrences around the country, X-Files style. Their work leads them to discover something entirely new that will change the world forever.
Why it's worth watching: The J.J. Abrams-produced series is one of the best broadcast science-fiction shows of all time, particularly in its first three seasons, and perfected the art of the serialized procedural by weaving the show's deep mythology and excellent character work into weekly standalone stories, making it easy to binge or watch in spurts. And by the time the end of Season 1 starts, you'll have a hard time stopping.
How many seasons: 5
Where to watch: IMDB.tv


<em>Battlestar Galactica</em>Battlestar Galactica

12 Monkeys

What it's about: After a deadly virus kills 7 billion people, the survivors living in 2043 send a scavenger named James Cole (Aaron Stanford) to the past to stop the virus from being released in the first place. Naturally, time loops and even forbidden romance get in the way of his mission to save the human race.
Why it's worth watching: 12 Monkeys is a show you have to pay close attention to in order to keep track of the changing timelines and loops, but ultimately the mythology and the world building are just too good to pass up! Plus, this show has some of the most kick-butt women on TV, which is harder to find than it should be in the sci-fi genre. With the fourth and final season come and gone, you'll be able to binge the whole thing start to finish!
How many seasons: 4
Where you can watch: Hulu


<em>Battlestar Galactica</em>Battlestar Galactica

Doctor Who

What it's about: The Doctor, a humanoid alien of an extinct race called the Time Lords, travels the universe in his (or her!) Tardis, a time-traveling spaceship that takes that shape of a phone booth. Together with his (or her!) human companions, The Doctor regularly saves the world from destruction with his (or her!) quick wit and timey-wimey adventures.
Why you should watch: If you're looking for something a little less intense and more whimsical, Doctor Who is the show for you. Typically, each episode travels to a new time period or galaxy (often both) where the Doctor and companions of the moment have wild adventures while escaping the evil clutches of the Daleks and Cybermen. Although, when you least expect it, the show knows just how to hit you where it hurts. So although it's a show of whimsy, be prepared to cry your eyes out too. Jodie Whittaker joined the series as the first female doctor in Season 11.
How many seasons: 12
Where you can watch: Season 12 is streaming on BBC America, previous seasons are for purchase on Amazon Prime. All seasons will be available on HBO Max when it launches in May 2020.

From Dippers to Needlecasting: Here's Your Altered Carbon Glossary


<em>Battlestar Galactica</em>Battlestar Galactica

Altered Carbon

What it's about: Far in the future, scientists have found a way to digitize and save human consciousness, allowing people's minds to be copied and transported from one body to another, essentially making humans immortal. When one of the richest men in the universe is murdered — though his copied consciousness obviously survives — he hires, Takeshi Kovacs, a mercenary hundreds of years old to figure out who "killed" him. In Season 2, Kovacs, in an entirely new body, searches for his long lost love while investigating a series of new murders.
Why it's worth watching: This futuristic series will have your head spinning with awesome technological advancements and a mystery that's almost too tangled to unravel. The kicker, though, is the flashback portion of the saga that not only ties well into the overall narrative but will have you begging for a spin-off based completely in the past.
How many seasons: 2
Where you can watch: Netflix


<em>Battlestar Galactica</em>Battlestar Galactica

The 100

What it's about: Nearly 100 years after nuclear war wipes out the human race on Earth, the only survivors are the members aboard a joint-space station called The Ark circling the globe. When overpopulation becomes a problem, The Ark decides to send 100 teenage delinquents to the ground to see if the Earth is habitable, but these misfits find more than bargained for when they arrive.
Why it's worth watching: Assuming the words "apocalypse" and "teens" didn't get you, The 100 is worth a binge simply for the dynamic storytelling alone. Rather than focus on hot teens running a community, the show hones in on the lengths to which humans will go to stay alive and whether that survival requires you to lose what it is that makes you human. It's a pretty insightful look into the future, and with four seasons (and a fifth currently airing) under its belt, it's a good, long binge to keep you out of the heat this summer.
How many seasons: 6. A seventh and final season begins airing in May 2020.
Where you can watch: Netflix

Now Is the Perfect Time to Watch All Those Shows You've Been Putting Off


<em>Battlestar Galactica</em>Battlestar Galactica

Firefly

What it's about: Space cowboys. Enough said.
Why it's worth watching: What list would be complete without the cult classic Firefly? This short-lived series took fans by storm back in 2002, though it was canceled after only 14 episodes. That makes it a quick binge full of shoot-outs and smuggling that will leave you begging for more. If you want an end to the story, you'll have to find the wrap-up movie, Serenity, which is currently streaming through Starz.
How many seasons: 1
Where you can watch: Hulu


<em>Battlestar Galactica</em>Battlestar Galactica

Westworld

What it's about: A western-themed amusement park serves as a playground for the ultra-wealthy, but the locals aren't actors — they're robots. Revolutionary advancements in artificial intelligence technology have allowed for stunningly life-like "hosts" to mimic human behavior and serve as the park's entertainment, but unfortunately these hosts aren't aware that the world they live in (and repeatedly die in) isn't actually real — or are they?
Why you should watch: Despite having a shaky Season 2, Westworld is a great binge that will keep you on the edge of your seat. You'll also have the added benefit of getting the answers to each season's burning questions much faster than week-to-week viewers, who had to watch and speculate at a much slower speed. So long as you remember that literally anyone can be a robot at any time, you'll enjoy your trip to Westworld.
How many seasons: 3
Where you can watch: HBO Now, HBO Go, Hulu, Amazon Prime


<em>Battlestar Galactica</em>Battlestar Galactica

Dark

What it's about: Thanks to a wormhole in the underground caves beneath the local power plant, strange things start happening in the small German town of Winden. Time travel, disappearing children, and family secrets intertwine in a thrilling mystery that spans three generations.
Why you should watch: Dark is Netflix's first German-language Original, meaning you've either got to watch with subtitles or the English dub. That means it may take you a minute to get into it, but once you do, you're in for a wild ride. Tangled webs of time travel and family secrets pair well with the show's odd sense of humor, making for a cool mystery that will keep you binging late into the night.
How many seasons: 2
Where you can watch: Netflix


<em>Battlestar Galactica</em>Battlestar Galactica

The Expanse

What it's about: Set in a future where humans have colonized the solar system, prejudices have divided humanity into three camps: Earth, Mars, and The Belt (an asteroid belt). But when a mysterious alien technology is discovered and a political conspiracy spanning the solar system begins to unravel, it becomes up to the idealist James Holden to try and save humanity from the potential alien weapon — and themselves.
Why you should watch: The most intriguing part of The Expanse is the intricate world-building and political machinations that underscore the cool sci-fi stuff like space battles and even gravity torture. The interplanetary conflict at the core of the show's story creates a ton of juicy arcs that all build toward some seriously unpredictable reveals.
How many seasons: 4. Season 5 has been ordered.
Where you can watch: Amazon Prime